Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lazy Gourmet

There was a request to know what we do with all our broccoli before it goes bad.

We start by trying to give a bunch away and eating it like crazy until it's starting to get limp. At that point, we freeze the rest.

So how does one freeze broccoli? It's not quite as simple as just sticking it in the freezer. You have to blanch the broccoli first to keep the enzymes in it from breaking down further. Then you have to let it dry before you stick it in a Ziploc (or a vacuum sealed bag if you have a food saver device). But then, voila, you have frozen broccoli. You can find this pretty easily if you do a Google search.

Here's the process in pictures.

Get some water boiling

Set up your cooling/draining station.

Put a scoop of broccoli in the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute.

Take it out and put it in the ice water to stop the cooking process.

If you stop right there, you will actually have some pretty well cooked broccoli. All you have to do is warm it up with whatever seasoning you like. It's tender but crisp.

Once the broccoli is cool, allow it to dry.

And then bag it and throw it in the freezer.

The only downside is the water you use to cook the broccoli is really nasty. It smells awful. I'm going to brew some up for Halloween to scare the kids.

And there you have it. Broccoli storage 101. That said, my understanding is that broccoli doesn't do well in hot climates so this may be a moot point for most of my readers (unless you want to grow broccoli during the winter, which might work).

We have visitors this weekend, but depending on our plans we may have Operation Dig Up Carrots underway.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So Thaaat's Where Broccoli Comes From

Hi all,

Well, a Wednesday update never happened, did it? I think I need to come to terms with the fact that I'm just going to update this guy once a week. I just don't have that much interesting stuff to say on a daily basis, and I'm not crazy about working on this thing at work or being on the computer after work (because that's what I do all day). But I'm still keeping up with all your blogs, and I'll try to be good about commenting.

I ran 26.5 miles this week, did 45 min of elliptical, and 3 weight training sessions. Not too shabby. My days broke down like this:

Monday- Easy 5 mi. Probably should have been shorter, but I was feeling really good. Full body weight training in the afternoon.

Tuesday- 5mi with 4 half-mile repeats.

Wednesday- 45 min elliptical. Upper body weights in the afternoon.

Thursday- 4.5mi with mile 3 at tempo pace. It was supposed to be run at faster than 10k pace, but sometimes I have a hard time figuring out my pacing. Lower body weights in the afternoon.

Friday- 4mi with 8 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow.

Saturday- 8mi with the first 6 easy and the last 2 faster. I think I actually did the first 6 too slow, which actually felt harder on my body especially when I tried to pick up the pace. I think next time I'm going to try to run a more normal pace- just not fast.

And today is REST!!! Except that I might try to do some yoga later because I'm feeling kind of stiff.

D and I saw Harry Potter Friday night. It was pretty good, but obviously they had to leave a lot out. I can't believe the last one is actually going to be split into two parts. I think this will be the first instance where it will actually take less time to read the book than to watch the movie.

What else... I've been playing a lot of cards lately. I'm getting pretty good at Euchre, and on Wednesday night my conversation partners and I played Go Fish. They also taught me a couple of Chinese card games. It was funny because our games were so similar, but just a little bit different. I thought for sure that would recognize and have played Go Fish before, but nope. Something very similar, but not exactly the same.


The garden is growing like crazy!!! Thanks to all of D's hard work last week, the weeks weren't growing like crazy, though.

Tomatoes!!! None are ripe yet, but we probably have 20 between all 6 of our plants.

Ever seen this much broccoli all at once?

Squash going crazy. These plants were only a few inches tall last week.

Same with these flowers. I can't believe how fast everything is growing.

Well, it's laundry time. I'm going to do a Lazy Gourmet entry here in a second, but I'll see you back here about this time next week.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Garden = Out of Control

We got all our chores done yesterday, and it's my rest day from working out, so I hope this will be a lazy, relaxing Sunday.

I ran 21 miles last week and did 3 sessions of strength training. I'm feeling good about slowly increasing my mileage and I'm actually enjoying strength training for once in my life. This is the last week of the phase that I'm on, so I'm looking forward to doing something new and different starting next week. And bonus- yesterday was my weigh-in day, and I'd gone down a pound from last week. Hopefully this will motivate me to be more conscious of my eating rather than give me an excuse to slack this week.

The only exciting thing that happened was that I almost stepped on a bird while I was running yesterday. Not a dead bird. A live bird. It landed right in front of me, right where I was about to place my foot. I had to come to a screeching (meaning I actually screeched because it really startled me) halt so the stupid thing could get out of the way.

We did some major work on the garden yesterday.

A lot of the mulch we'd put down for weed control had been blown or washed away so D went to work covering everything up with a fresh layer.

Here it is with a nice new layer of mulch.

We had a ton- and I mean a ton- of broccoli and lettuce that was ready to be harvested.

Our tomatoes aren't ripe yet, but the plants are out of control! Same with the carrots.

After MUCH washing and drying, we have more lettuce and broccoli than we know what to do with.

Two huge bowls of broccoli. Plus we froze a bunch.

And huge bags of lettuce. We had two of these guys to give away plus another huge bag we are keeping.

We are planning to give a lot of this to our church friends and maybe to the St. Vincent DuPaul society. They have a fresh vegetable collection on Monday morning, but I may or may not remember to get the stuff out there.

Not a lot else has been going on. We may or may not go out to the Dane County Fair this afternoon. It could be fun, but I don't think it's a very big deal. I'm sure the Wisconsin State Fair will be a much bigger event. I'm not sure where that is, though. Otherwise we'll just try to relax and enjoy having all our chores done and get ready for the week ahead.

Hope everyone has a great Sunday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lazy Gourmet

I didn't get to take many pictures last week because the camera was needed elsewhere, but I did get a snapshot of a dinner from last week. I share it with you because it's the easiest meal ever. If we ever want something quick at home, it is this: extremely low key chili.

Here's the recipe:

Put a pot on the burner on high.
Open cans of beans, drain them, and dump them into the pot.
Add in a bunch of spices. Anything that doesn't make you want to gag will do.
Mush it up while it gets hot.
After it's hot, serve it.

It takes about 5 minutes max, and about 5 brain cells max. And it actually tastes pretty good. Now that's what I call lazy gourmet.

You can also dress it up if you're feeling adventurous.

This is mine with leftover roasted chicken and some cheese mixed in. Serve with a green salad. Mmmmmmm. Easy.

Easily Amazed and Amused

Hi all,

I'm not very good at keeping this thing updated, am I? It's hard because work has been busy, and I really don't like using the computer after work because I'm on it all day. So I'm thinking I might make it a goal to post on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I still want to use the blog because it's kind of fun, but realistically I just can't/won't post as much as many of you do.

So what's been going on...

Wow, my leg and hip have been feeling really good. I've had zero pain and tightness for the last few runs. Zero. I read an interesting article in my latest Runner's World that discussed the connection between physical and mental pain. Yeah, it's a little bit weird, but after I read it, I was thinking that sometimes my pain level can go hand in hand with my anxiety level at work. Last week was not a good week and I had some stiffness in my IT band. This week things have been good (or no worse than usual) and I have no problems. I'm not absolutely connecting the two- there could be so many other things involved- but I'm not totally discounting the idea either.


New from the garden, we have broccoli!

This is how it grows on the plant. I had no idea up until a few weeks ago. I thought it grew under the ground, haha.

The other thing I didn't realize is that those bumpy things turn into flowers.

Crazy, right?!?

D and I took Monday off as a mental health day and went to The House on the Rock. I did not take pictures, and, honestly, words cannot describe it. Okay- there is one word- bizarre. Mostly I just enjoyed spending time with D because he'd been so busy for the past 3 weeks.

That's it. Stay tuned for some Lazy Gourmet in a few minutes unless I end up doing a work thing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Stress- meh.

Hi all,

I've been meaning to update this thing for a few days, but work has been very busy. Ever have one of those "Murphy's Law" weeks where anything that can go wrong will? Well, it was like that for me. But it's Friday afternoon, I have an hour to go, and I was able to knock out 2 projects I've been struggling with this week, so I feel like I'm in a good place to spend some blog time.

I've been having good runs and good lifting sessions lately. I've been a bit tired because I've had a hard time sleeping lately, mostly because I've been staying up too late or letting myself get too keyed up before bedtime, but it doesn't seem to be affecting my workouts.

It was thundering out this morning so I had my first treadmill run in awhile. After about 2.5 months of running on the treadmill exclusively, not much will deter me from going outside, but big crashes of thunder will. It was a big investment for us, and it takes up 1/2 our living room, but when I want it, I'm always grateful it's there.

I hesitate to mention this because I don't want to talk about weight loss stuff on here, but I guess I'll share a bit about that because I feel like I've had a success this week.

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I'm participating in an online lean eating program. There are a few components to it but as far as eating goes, every two weeks you get a new "habit" to follow. The habit two weeks ago was "startchy carbs only after a workout".

The first week I got through it with a bunch of slip ups. The second week I kind of rebelled against the whole thing. This week, I think I've got it together. The first few days were really really hard. Dinner without rice or pasta just wasn't the same. But either yesterday or today, something clicked and I feel satisfied without that stuff. So that's my success story I wanted to share.

Lest anyone get worried that I'm going to die without brown rice every night, I'm 1.Able to eat grains after my workouts, 2.Able to eat unlimited fruit, vegetables, and beans and 3.Running way way way less than I used to and than most of the people readin this run. So don't get worried.

Lots of good things coming up this weekend. I get my husband back after he spent 3-weeks working long days teaching a class. We have tickets to Antiques Roadshow on Saturday and will get them to look at an old ink well I have. We're planning to go to the Art Fair on the Square. And last, we're taking Monday off and doing something out of the ordinary just because both of us need a break.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lazy Gourmet

Last night I not only cooked dinner, but I did what every healthy eating expert tells you to do: plan ahead for the week.

So I roasted 2 big chicken breasts, each cut into 2 normal-sized pieces. I really really really hate cooking meat, so this was a big deal for me. Two went into dinner and here's the other two left over. Not only do I hate cooking meat, but I hate eating the meat I've cooked after I cook it, so let's hope I don't ignore these guys and let them spoil.

Dinner was pretty tasty. Just chicken and garbanzos with cauliflower in Trader Joe's Masala (not to be confused with Marsala) sauce. Plus some lettuce from the garden.

I have a bunch left over, too.

I stuck one tupperware full in the fridge for later this week and one in the freezer.

I really should have taken some pictures of the garden because we have some baby broccoli and tomatoes coming in. And there were three beautiful wading birds wandering through a neighboring garden, looking for lunch (sorry neighbors). But I did get some more flowers! So pretty. I hope no one catches me.

4th of July

Ooooooh noes! It's been a long time since I've posted. Let's see what's been going on...


My runs have been good lately. Nothing super exciting, but I'm planning to do a bit more speed stuff. I haven't been doing my planned races because, honestly, I don't feel like I'm prepared to do a good job. I'm to the point where I've run races- I don't need to run a 10k for the heck of it- I'm only interested in doing them if I feel like I could run a good race if not PR.


I actually did some cooking prep yesterday. I don't like cooking all that much, and I really hate cooking meat. But I did it anyway, yesterday, and got an okay-tasting dinner plus two other meals out of it. So... I'm thinking about doing a new feature where I post what I made for dinner the night before. It would give me something slightly more interesting to talk and it might, hopefully, motivate me to put a tiny bit of effort into cooking. If left to my own devices, I'd eat cereal for dinner every single night. But that's just not going to cut it.

4th of July Fireworks!!!

The view from the hill where we were sitting was really nice. This picture really doesn't do it justice, but you could see pretty far out over Lake Mendota.

And another nice action shot.

Thanks for being a good sport, D, although the look on your face says, "Just another thing I have to do to humor the crazy lady with the camera."

Stay tuned for the first installment of The Lazy Gourmet

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1/2 way through review

Wow, it's already 1/2 way through 2009. I can honestly say this year has not gone the way I'd expected it to fitness-wise. In some ways it's been disappointing, but it some ways it's a very good thing.

At the beginning of the year my goal was to build up my mileage, run a great marathon or half marathon in May and be ready to try to BQ in a marathon in the fall. But winter and an injury came along and changed those plans. I had to cut way back on running and give up all of those goals- at least for now- which was really hard.

BUT, these challenges have opened up new opportunities for me. I think the most important thing is that my injury has forced me to rethink my relationship between running and the rest of my life. Everything looked good on the outside, but I was ignoring some critical issues that were just waiting to jump up and bite me. My eating habits were pretty bad (I was running to eat and skimping on healthy foods so I could have a humongous ice cream sundae, etc.) and my strength was not where it should have been.

Backing way down on running has forced me to really look at what I'm eating and evaluate if it's in line with my athletic goals. It's also given me the time to do some serious strength training. Both of these things are critical to running a happy, healthy marathon.

Now that everything is feeling good and I'm feeling good about my eating/ exercise balance, I'd like to start increasing my miles again. Very slowly. The goal would be to increase from about 25 mpw (where I'm at now) to about 40mpw before winter starts, hold on to that level of fitness through the winter, and build to be ready to do a marathon training program for fall 2010. I think those are reasonable goals as long as I keep my focus.

In some ways it's frustrating to feel so out of shape compared to other runners out there, but I know that I'm laying the groundwork to be a better runner right now. I just have to stay positive and make the best out of every situation that comes my way.